To be claimed
Marvin E. Nelson is a Democratic member of the North Dakota House of Representatives, representing District 9. He was first elected to the chamber in 2010.
On March 14, 2016, Nelson announced his candidacy in North Dakota's 2016 election for governor. Nelson was the first Democrat to declare a run for statewide office in 2016. He was unopposed for the Democratic nomination. He was defeated in the general election on November 8, 2016.
Nelson earned his A.S. in Agriculture and his B.S. in Entomology from North Dakota State University. His professional experience includes working as an agricultural consultant.
Former Member, Industry, Business and Labor Committee, North Dakota State House of Representatives
Former Member, Judiciary Committee, North Dakota State House of Representatives
Member, Crop Protection Product Harmonization and Registration Board
Member, Education Funding Formula Joint Review Committee
Member, Industry, Business and Labor Committee
Member, Joint Committee on Health Care
Member, Joint Review Committee on Legislative Audit and Fiscal Review
Member, Rules Committee
Member, Transportation Committee
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Type: concurrent resolution Chamber: lower
Type: concurrent resolution Chamber: lower
Type: bill Chamber: upper
By Nick Smith Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Burgum is facing off against Democratic state Rep. Marvin Nelson of Rolla and Libertarian Party candidate Marty Riske. Candidates answered questions submitted by the Tribune on the race for an office that the Republicans have held since 1992. Question: What role should the state play in oversight of pipeline protests? Burgum: One of the things that makes our country so special is the right of free speech and the right to peacefully protest. Also, I have tremendous respect for the important role our dedicated North Dakota law enforcement officers have played in maintaining public safety and supporting the rule of law. The state should continue to request that the federal government uphold their responsibility for maintaining peace and order on federal land. Going forward, we need to remember that disagreement can exist alongside mutual respect, listening and dialogue as we work together towards a peaceful, constructive resolution. Nelson: The primary responsibility at this point is safety of everyone. Next comes protecting a legal business activity. The state will need to be responsible for the extraordinary costs precipitated by the protests. One big aspect is the state should really work to prevent such situations. It seems to me in siting proceedings, there should be a public advocate appointed by the PSC to bring forward potential problems and check on the quality of the application. Riske: The state should play the role of arbitrator in bringing the various parties together to find common ground. Those that oppose any project at all should not be given much say in the matter, but those that simply want a project that protects everyone should work on finding that common ground. Q: Should corporate farming have a place in North Dakota agriculture? Burgum: Agriculture is a globally competitive business, and it is vital farmers and ag producers in North Dakota have the same access to capital as other businesses. Nelson: The people have just voted on this issue, and they have soundly rejected an expansion of corporate farming past the family corporation. That should settle it. Riske: Yes, if for no other reason than it protects family farms by avoiding the estate tax, and it makes probate planning much easier when everyone knows what share of the operation the children get when the parents are gone. Q: Should medical marijuana be available to residents in North Dakota? Burgum: Yes, if properly regulated. Nelson: Yes, I believe the benefits outweigh the problems. Riske: Yes, and I am a co-sponsor of Measure 5 to do just that. Prohibition has failed to protect our young. Q: What is your viewpoint on enacting Marsy's Law? Burgum: Like all measures that change our constitution, I encourage voters to thoroughly familiarize themselves with the pros and cons. I will support the will of the people. Nelson: I just cannot figure out how we would really be able to handle a system where one person is presumed innocent and the other is presumed a victim at the same time. The constitutional right to refuse a deposition, while supposedly not infringing on the constitutional rights of the accused, seems to me an impossibility. Riske: I oppose Measure #3, Marsy's Law because it will drastically increase costs to the judicial system. While there may be areas to improve victim rights, a constitutional amendment with a blank check is not the way to do it. Q: What future do you see for fossil fuels and renewable power? Burgum: North Dakota has been blessed with an abundance of God-given natural resources including oil, natural gas, coal, water and wind. We have an opportunity to successfully pursue an "all of the above" energy strategy, at the same time we dedicate ourselves to protecting and preserving our environment for future generations. Nelson: It is pretty clear that what are called renewable energies are going to play a greater role in the future in our energy mix. At the same time, I really do believe that technological advances will allow for cleaner, more efficient use of fossil fuels. Energy drives our economy, and we must be careful not to drive ourselves off an economic cliff. Riske: Our energy policy must allow for an evolution to cleaning fuels without making our current fuel sources arbitrarily more expensive through regulation and taxation. Q: What are your top three priorities in balancing the state budget? Burgum: The most immediate challenge facing the state is the budget, and working together with the legislature we will reduce spending and fund our priorities without raising taxes. Going forward, we can enhance the budgeting process with more accurate forecasting, zero-based budgeting and revenue risk management. Additionally we need to reinvent the delivery of government services to increase efficiency and improve outcomes in education, health care and corrections. Nelson: 1. Not push the spending to the local level and property taxes. 2. Infrastructure. While clearly there is going to be a significant reduction in infrastructure spending, we have to be careful not to panic. With roads, we cannot afford to not spend the money to maintain what we have. 3. We need to be strategic with cuts. Some cuts, such as some services to the elderly, can cost more after you cut them because if the alternative is the nursing home. Riske: Number one in priority would be to establish a tradition of independent audits of all agencies and departments of our state government. Number two would be to see to it that industrial hemp would be available to all farmers to grow at will. Number 3 would be to guide North Dakota through the extreme deflation our state will go through for the next several years. Q: What do you think is the correct level of taxation for tobacco products? Burgum: I'm always skeptical about raising taxes as a solution to any problem. Nelson: Ideally, it would stop people from starting to smoke but not be too harsh on current smokers who are not going to quit because of some tax. I'm not sure there is a "correct" level of tobacco taxes. Riske: The tax on tobacco should be at a level that is quantifiably equal to the drain on state resources due to the impact of smoking itself. That does not mean creating a new bureaucracy with a special purpose, nor does it mean a 400 percent tax increase overnight on smokers who tend to be lower income. As such, I oppose Measure #4. Private enterprise has done an excellent job of self-policing for more than nine years. Q: When should the Legacy Fund be accessed? Burgum: The Legacy Fund is an endowment for our future, and I will fight to preserve the principal. The interest and earnings from the Legacy Fund provide an incredible opportunity for us to create something lasting and exceptional. The Legacy Fund should not be raided as another "rainy day fund" to cover revenue shortfalls. Nelson: I would say the goal of spending 25 percent of earnings and reinvesting 75 percent is a good idea. I would also say though that those should be more long-term goals because even the earnings from the Legacy Fund are unlikely to be stable and it probably wouldn't work to just take the same percentage year after year. Riske: I would like to see the Legacy Fund continue to build to the point where it is North Dakota's own Sovereign Wealth Fund and to the point where the interest generated off the fund can permanently replace major tax revenue sources, such as the income tax, property taxes or college tuition for North Dakota high school graduates. I would oppose even touching the fund until it has about $10 billion or can safely and consistently generate enough interest income to offset one or more of the other major revenue sources. Q: What would be your management style as governor? Burgum: In the private sector, my management style is to listen, collaborate and empower teams and leaders. As governor, my team and I will work with the Legislature and each agency to inspire new ideas and new approaches that make government more efficient while delivering better results. Nelson: Respect of the employees and their professionalism and a respect of the public with a willingness to listen to all, not just certain groups. Much like the budget is made up of many smaller decisions, we (also) need to dissect the Administrative Code piece by piece to question why and what our priorities really should be. Administrative rules just keep growing and that creates problems. Riske: As a non-conformist in the workplace, I can succeed in many areas as long it doesn't involve too much humdrum routine. I like pilot projects that test my ingenuity. My experience starting and running more than a dozen enterprises shows I am skilled at engineering human relationships and human systems. I quickly grasp the politics of institutions and I always want to understand the people within the system rather than tell them what to do. Q: What would you hope to have been able to have accomplished during a first term as governor? Burgum: My running mate, Mayor Brent Sanford and I, along with the legislature, will have balanced the budget and funded our priorities without increasing taxes. We will have supported our entrepreneurs and innovators to diversify our economy. Our communities will have smart infrastructure and vibrant main streets, which will help retain and attract top talent in North Dakota. Nelson: The state would be moving forward without panic in the budget situation, employee morale would be improved and the people of North Dakota could feel less intimidated and more trusting of state government. A significant increase in the availability of quality, affordable child care with an improvement in the state supervision. Riske: First, we must balance the budget and make significant cuts to reverse the overspending of the last decade without tax increases and without raiding trust funds designed to provide income to the state while eliminating a tax. Secondly, I would find ways to untether North Dakota from the federal government by rejecting unfunded mandates and challenging the federal government's interference with state business under the 10th Amendment. Q: Would you have handled this year's budget shortfall in the August special session as Gov. Dalrymple did? If not, how would you have structured the budget fix and why? Burgum: Gov. Dalrymple and the Legislature took the prudent and necessary steps to address the budget shortfall that gets us to the next legislative session. There is little value in looking back; we are focused on the tremendous opportunities ahead. Nelson: It should have been handled more strategically. It was only a slight modification from across-the-board cuts. Sen. Matthern's proposal to restore some cuts would have been a great improvement. Riske: I would have called for a special session in February 2016 when the first round of allotments came down. The across-the-board cuts did not represent a management of the budget, but rather a reaction to the revenue shortfall. Q: Should marijuana be legalized in North Dakota? Why or why not? Burgum: No response. Nelson: I would not favor full legalization. Other states have gone that route and I would like to watch them for awhile. If we fully legalize, I don't believe there is any going back, so we should take it slow. I do believe the current penalties in law are too high and note that law enforcement and the courts have for practical purposes already lowered them. Riske: Yes. North Dakota is missing out on the frontier of new medicines extracted from cannabis sativa. Already, several states have entrepreneurs developing new strains and delivery methods. The vision I share is one of opportunity.
By John Hageman The three candidates for North Dakota governor debated one final time Monday before the November election. The roughly half-hour debate, sponsored by AARP in North Dakota and taped at Prairie Public Broadcasting in downtown Fargo, featured discussion on the state of North Dakota's budget, a large protest over an oil pipeline and caregiver services. Republican Doug Burgum faced off against Democrat Marvin Nelson and Libertarian Marty Riske. The debate will air on Prairie Public at 8 p.m. Wednesday. A common theme throughout much of the debate was the state's fiscal situation. Slumping oil and farm commodity prices have forced North Dakota leaders to slash agency budgets, and the state Legislature met in a special session in August to pass a $310 million budget fix. Asked what he would have done differently had he been governor, Burgum, a Fargo businessman, said he'd rather talk about what the state should do in the future. "And I think going forward, it's important that we match our spending with our revenues," he said, adding the state should spend less, get better at forecasting tax revenues and improve its "risk management." Nelson, a state representative from Rolla, said governors should listen to constituents in making budget decisions. "The people a few years ago voted not to cut income tax, and yet, the leaders of the majority party continually cut income tax," he said. "The people instituted an oil tax, and then the majority party put in the trigger, then as an excuse to get rid of the trigger, they cut that tax." Riske, a businessman in Fargo, called for independent audits of state government agencies. That will help identify ways to reduce the budget more precisely, rather than across-the-board cuts. "An across-the-board cut is a reactionary thing, whereas precise cutting requires thought," Riske said, adding the state should look into duplication in higher education functions. Pipeline discussion The candidates also weighed in on the Dakota Access Pipeline protest, which has drawn thousands to a site south of Mandan. The proposed pipeline would run from western North Dakota to Illinois, but the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sued the Army Corps of Engineers over its authorization of the project in July, arguing it would harm cultural sites and water if it leaked. Nelson said there were several problems with siting the project, which shows the need for change in the Public Service Commission. As for the governor's role in the protests, Nelson said he was disappointed "that there hasn't been a serious effort to try to get the different people in to talk to each other. "Everything is just done through innuendo and through the news media and stuff," he said. Nelson said it seems the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe was never consulted about how the pipeline would affect its water supply. "There was an effort to consult them about the heritage sites, but never about their water," he said. "They do have a point." Riske said he would have started negotiating the issue right away before "national influences" stepped in. "President Obama did a troublesome thing when he came behind the federal judge and broke the rule of law," he said. While Riske said the project should move forward, he also advocated for making a deal with Native American leaders to address their concerns. Burgum said there is an opportunity for "enhanced dialogue" over the protest, but he said the issue has grown much larger than the original debate about pipeline siting. He said he spoke with Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II over the phone last week, which Burgum said was an opportunity to listen to the tribal leader's concerns. "We have to be a country that can create jobs and build infrastructure; we also have to be a country where we can listen to each other," he said. "I think there's a solution set out there, but there's not a solution set out there if the federal government is going to be trying to meddle in affairs that we should be able to handle here at a state level." Presidential debate The gubernatorial debate took place less than 24 hours after the second presidential debate between Democrat Hillary Clinton and her Republican rival Donald Trump. That debate featured a barrage of personal attacks and insults, but Monday's gubernatorial showdown was far more subdued. After the Prairie Public debate, Burgum expressed shock and disappointment that the presidential process produced "two flawed candidates." But Burgum, who endorsed Trump in May, reiterated his stance Monday that it's important for North Dakota to have a Republican in the White House, given what he described as Clinton's anti-oil and anti-agriculture policies. "Electing a president whose policies would be economically harmful to North Dakota is not a good thing," he said. "I don't think her policies are good for the country, but they're definitely not good for North Dakota." Nelson said he's "there with Hillary," although he supported Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. "Frankly, I think any vote that's not for Hillary is trying to put a mad man in charge of our country," he said. Riske said his party's presidential candidate, Gary Johnson, would have brought more discussion about foreign policy and military spending. "I always feel better about our debates than the national debates, because we are actually working hard to find solutions to the problems that North Dakota is faced with," he said.
By Nick Smith Dozens of protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline project caused fireworks briefly during a gubernatorial debate in downtown Bismarck Monday with a coordinated outburst expressing opposition to the multi-billion dollar project. Following candidate's responses to a debate question inside the Belle Mehus Auditorium, protest organizer Joye Braun walked down one of the aisles toward the stage, beginning a tirade against the pipeline project and oil and gas development in general. Republican Party candidate Doug Burgum, state Rep. Marvin Nelson, D-Rolla, and Marty Riske of the Libertarian Party looked on from their podiums as the disruption unfolded over several minutes. "We will never allow this pipeline through!" Braun shouted, prompting dozens of fellow protesters to rise in unison and begin chanting "water is life," and heckling the candidates. "You have to listen to the people," Braun said, while North Dakota Newspaper Association officials sponsoring the debate tried to calm things down. "You need to stop fracking because it's poisoning our water." Nearly one-third of the crowd of about 175 people walked out and continued their demonstration outside, which could still be heard for some time from inside the venue as the debate resumed. The protesters were among a group of more than 100 that gathered to demonstrate outside the venue as the doors opened. "The process seems to be a mess from the start," Nelson had told the audience of the pipeline project's permitting before the protesters' outburst. Nelson said there should have been more input from stakeholders and the tribe's concerns taken into account. He added that the pipeline shouldn't have been sited under a large source of water like the Missouri River. He said further review is necessary to come to a reasonable compromise. Burgum said the recent protests are a collision of a number of issues including the public's right to peacefully assemble and the hundreds of years of tribal mistrust of the government over broken promises and treaties. "There's an opportunity to open up a new dialogue," he added. Riske said President Barack Obama's move to offset a federal judge's rejection of the tribe's request for an injunction of the project puts the onus on the White House. Shortly after the judge's decision last month, the U.S. Department of the Interior, Department of the Army and Department of Justice issued a joint statement saying the Army won't allow construction near or under the Missouri River until further review is completed. The agencies also asked Dakota Access, LLC, a partner of Energy Transfer Partners, L.P., to not undertake construction within 20 miles of either side of the river. Dakota Access, LLC, has been working on the 1,172-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline for months. When completed, it would transport crude oil from Stanley to Patoka, Ill. If completed on schedule before the end of the year, the nearly $3.8 billion project would transport up to 450,000 barrels per day of Bakken crude with a future maximum capacity of 570,000 barrels per day. The project has sparked opposition from Standing Rock Sioux Tribe officials, Native Americans and activists from around the country to camp out and oppose the project, part of which is planned to go under the Missouri River less than a mile from the reservation border. "I've never seen anything like that before," North Dakota Newspaper Association Executive Director Steve Andrist said. "They were attempting to make a point and we were able to move on." The rest of the debate was relatively uneventful compared to the outburst, although candidates did differ on how to improve under-performing K-12 schools. Burgum said the state can't continue to drop money into education and expect different results if some schools continue to lag. "It's unfair to students it's unfair to taxpayers," Burgum said, adding that charter schools or a school voucher system may need to be considered. Nelson sharply disagreed, saying punishing under-performing schools would only exacerbate the problem. "Where more money is spent the schools do better," Nelson said of other states. "We should be helping them." Riske was on board with Burgum's line of thought: "I'm in favor of charter schools and vouchers." Prairie Public Television will record the third and final debate next Monday in Fargo, which will air Oct. 12.